“Creating animation means creating a fictional world. That world soothes the spirit of those who are disheartened and exhausted from dealing with the sharp edges of reality.”

No other filmmaker has come as close to understanding the essence of humanity as have Japanese animator, Hayao Miyazaki.

Miyazaki’s filmography makes use of realism as a canvas to portray a raw human nature that’s untied to any beliefs and cultures. In this way he aims for the viewers to, after watching his films, take away a deeper understanding of the human condition. This makes the level of depths of sentiments and outlook that describes Miyazaki’s films almost contrary to the typical animations.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988). Credit: Amal FM via flickr CC BY 2.0

Throughout his films there are poetic elements that upholds the truth of our human condition. An amalgamation of emotions in the stalemate of beauty and despair; of dust and desire. Life’s inimitable intricacies filtered through the perception of this undisputed master architecture, becomes a realm of fantasy, yet it is a fantasy inasmuch as letting go of logic amidst catharsis.

Every picture is painstakingly beautiful. Every world built on the construct of the human heartbeat skipping into the realm of nostalgia and wonder.

Ponyo (2008), a Miyazaki film takes us back to things we’ve abandoned growing up. Credit: Loren Javier via flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

And because Miyazaki believes in the unseen thread that coalesces the spirit and material, his films explores animism through the medium of empathy. His characters are as subtle as they are imperfect in the minutiae of their movements. The protagonists are not infallible, but are humans. After all, it is impossible to really identify with perfectness. The character’s faithfulness to our own imperfection and frivolousness extends to us a welcoming invitation to escape our own consciousness, to unbind from the chains of ideals and notions and immerse our being into bygones times of childhood frivolity.

‘Life is a winking light in the darkness.

…like the wind… or like sounds.

We come into being, resonate with each other…

Then fade away’

– Hayao Miyazaki –

Spirited Away (2001). Credit: Alberto Garcia via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Miyazaki’s depiction of character is unparalleled in its truthfulness. He does not portray morality as a simple binary, there is no clearly discernible dichotomy between good vs evil; or light vs darkness in his characters, but rather, they become interwoven together to complete the characters just as the characters complete the essence of human nature. Villains are as capable at exhibiting kindness just as are heroes of savagery.

As Miyazaki puts its, “You must see with eyes unclouded by hate. See the good in that which is evil, and the evil in that which is good. Pledge yourself to neither side, but vow instead to preserve the balance that exists between the two.”

By Gray, L.

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